Parchment & Pajamas: Virtually Visiting Special Collections & Archives

Here’s a fun myth to bust: “I can only visit FSU Special Collections & Archives in person.”

SO not true! For years, you’ve been able to visit Special Collections & Archives materials from wherever you are, as long as you’re connected to the internet. Haven’t you checked out the FSU Digital Library yet?

If you haven’t yet, it’s time! The Digital Library is a one-stop shop of letters, posters, photographs, and books (and pretty much any other object you can imagine) from our manuscript archives, University archives, and rare book collections. From our very oldest item, these cuneiform tablets from 2350 to 1788 BC, to photos of students from when FSU was Florida State College for Women, to a letter from the ambassador of France to Rome from 1847.

Our Digital Library Center takes care to get images of the items in our collections from as many views as possible. Take this medieval chain book, for example. Sure, they went ahead and took photos of every page, so you can test out your Latin skills and explore every bit for writing in the margins, but they also photographed the book, closed, from multiple angles to give you a sense of the entire book as an object.

But what’s missing here? Does looking at photos make you wish you could know more? Want to hear the thunk of the heavy wooden cover opening, or the clinking of the chain as the book is moved? Do you want to see an artists’ book in motion, or an intense zoom on the remains of a wax seal? [Warning: the video below has no sound! You’ll have to schedule a virtual visit to hear this book.]

Then our virtual consultations might be right for you! You can sign up to chat with a member of our team via Zoom. If you have an item from the collections in mind that you’d like to see during your conversation, let us know, and we’ll bring a high-powered document camera to the party! Check out the video above for an example of the camera (minus audio) in action.

A virtual consultation is perfect for:

  • Seeing items that aren’t digitized yet when you can’t make it to FSU’s campus
  • Narrowing down which items you want to request for digitization by looking through an archival box with a consultant
  • Talking through your research project based on primary sources with a member of our team!

So what are you waiting for? You can request a virtual consultation here.

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